[Source: Transat Jacques Vabre]Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) on the MOD70 Oman Air – Musandam crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre finish line off Itajai, Brasil at 20h 04m 09 sec local time (22h 04m 09 secs) 5 hrs and 15 seconds after the winner Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier). The duo took 11 days 10 hours 04mins and 09 seconds to complete the 5,450 miles (theoretical course) between Le Havre and Itajaí, at an average speed of 19.71 kts. They actually sailed 5968 miles at an average of 21.77 kts.
This transatlantic race for the MOD70s was characterised by a fast, relatively testing exit of the English Channel followed after the Bay of Biscay by a difficult passage of Cape Finisterre in big seas and building winds – which skipper Gavignet later described as the worst he had seen on a MOD70 – before escaping into the Portuguese Trade Winds allowed an initial break by Edmond de Rothschild.
The two MOD70s closed up after the Doldrums and Oman Air – Musandam were less than 30 miles behind on Saturday night before they dropped off the back of the cold front there.
Damian Foxall, co-skipper Oman Air-Musandam: “I think that we made a few mistakes but Edmond de Rothschild made less. The most important thing for us when we finish an event like this is to say we have no regrets, and we have small sporting regrets, a couple of things we could have done a little bit better, but we crossed the finish line and feel very happy with the two weeks we have been at sea, Edmond de Rothschild deserved the win. It would have been nice to have been a little bit closer but we dropped off the back after coming out of the cold front off Cabo Frio, and we had a few little technical things which slowed us down, but to be in is awesome.
I guess going around Finisterre we kind of overestimated the conditions, we maybe went a little bit into defensive mode, thinking long term, whereas we really needed to be pushing on then to stay with the strategic game, to go in the right direction and to get south fast. The further south you got, the faster you got there and that was right through into the following week. We dropped off the back of it there a bit. And the other tough moments were putting a lot of work into getting back up to the other guys and I think we were up to 20 miles behind and then we lost the hydraulics and the rake on the rig.
That was about 36 hours ago. One moment that was pretty tough as well was when the port autopilot failed, the display on the helm, and so when the guy was helming on port, the other guy could not sleep, you stayed in the cuddy and every time you needed to trim, you had to call the other guy and so when you were off, you were not off.
There were difficult periods, we realised after the third of fourth day when we started to recover, really how much we had put in over the first couple of days, it does not take much to throw you out of your watch schedule, you don’t realise that you are digging into the reserves a bit.
Obviously one of the objectives was to arrive here in good shape, we have managed to do that and now we are ready for Brazil. The main objective was get here in good shape and if we did that it means we managed the machine well.
Once again we realise how fantastic these boats are, they are very close one designs, and they are really reliable in terms of the structure, we have been doing over 30kts averages through many of the watches, and over 600 mile days, and we had probably a little bit of apprehension going into this event as to how we would manage this machine with two people. But we realised very quickly that we worked out systems that worked, it worked well under autopilot and there are ways to set up the boat so that you can have 100% performance most of the time. And we were really surprised by that. It is brilliant, fantastic.”